When it comes to setting the table for Thanksgiving dinner, most of us have the basics down. You may pull out the good china, the embroidered napkins, the silverware, and the serving platters. You may scatter some decorations around and light a few candles. Maybe you keep things casual and fun with a paper runner and hand-lettered seat markers. However you approach it, there’s a simple trick for setting a truly fabulous Thanksgiving table, and the design pros here at Third & Main are letting you in on the secret.
First, Work out the Basics
First things first – before you start laying things out, decide on what you’re trying to achieve. Third & Main recently launched our Thanksgiving bundles to make this part easy. Our contemporary and modern bundles give you a starting point for your table. Our contemporary bundle, for example, features stemless glassware with shimmering gold accents and ceramic serving pieces. For a more playful table, our modern bundle includes a kraft paper table runner printed with “Thankful,” along with enameled mango wood trays, acorn place cards, and more. In both cases, you get anchor pieces that are simple to build from, so that your finished Thanksgiving table strikes just the right note.
When it comes to place settings, there are no right or wrong ways to do it. But let’s face it – some settings just stand out. Regardless of your decor preferences, start with the basics. Here’s a simple way to set each place: stack the charger, dinner plate, napkin, and salad plate. Put the knife and spoon on the right, fork on the left. Wine and water glasses go above the plate to the right, bread plate to the left. Dessert fork and spoon go directly above the plate, placed horizontally. Of course, you can add and delete whatever you want from this set up – maybe you skip the salad and bread plates and you keep the silverware pared down to just the basics. Maybe you go with placemats to ground each place setting instead of chargers, go big with both, or skip them altogether! Either way, this is a classic starting point.
A Word on Centerpieces
Centerpieces are another key element of the Thanksgiving table, and again, there are no hard and fast rules. However, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind.
- Centerpiece height. Mixing and matching height adds fullness and vibrance – think low floral arrangements and taller tapers, or clusters of votives and pumpkins. Just remember that your guests will be seated, and you don’t want to block their line of sight with something that’s too tall.
- Table shape. Knowing how to style your table based on its shape is what sets the amateurs from the professionals. Tall, single centerpieces are best suited to round tables. Square tables have more space in the center, so make sure to scale your centerpiece appropriately. Rectangular tables look best with multiple centerpieces, but remember to keep them narrow so you don’t inadvertently crowd the table.
- Other table elements. While the centerpiece is, well, the center of your table’s decor, all of the other elements play key supporting roles. Coordinate color, texture, and the overall tone – Formal? Casual but elegant? Eclectic? – between your centerpiece, your place settings, and the other table elements. You want everything, from the runner and linens to the decor pieces, candles, and name tags, to seamlessly work together for the best effect.
Whatever you end up using for your centerpiece, use some of the same elements to tie into your place settings. But do it with a twist.
Here’s the Trick to a Great Thanksgiving Table
If you’re using all of the same elements in your place settings – the same placements, chargers, plates, silverware, glasses – take time to style each one slightly differently. For example, let’s say you’re using eucalyptus and rosemary sprigs, zinc name tags, and linen napkins at each place setting. One setting might include a bundle of greens nestled on the napkin, which is then tied with twine and the zinc name tag. Another might include the sprigs of greenery arranged on the salad plate with the tag, no twine, and napkin visible beneath the salad plate.
The point is, all of the elements are the same, but each place setting is just a little bit different. It veers from the matchy-matchy feel of an overly-styled Thanksgiving table for a modern, cohesive look that will wow your guests. Keep it intentional – spend time making each place setting its own – to ensure this styling approach is stylish and appealing, not messy or rushed.
The best part is that this trick works no matter what look you’re going for. It brings a modern touch to formal, elegant, and casual table settings alike. And if you’re still struggling with deciding exactly how you want your table to look, remember that our Thanksgiving bundles make that part easy. Get yours now, and have fun with that table!